There is an arc of popcorn in my life that began when I was a just a farm kid growing up near Redbrush, Kentucky. My parents gave my sister and I some popcorn seeds and we grew a few popcorn plants to test our green thumbs.
Being sequestered on a farm in the Appalachians meant this activity was pretty exciting [there wasn’t anything else going on] plus we got to eat what we grew, setting in motion a lifelong addiction to the stuff.
I loved sitting in my bedroom when I was a kid eating popcorn hot out of a Joe Namath popcorn machine and listening to the Kentucky Wildcats on my Sharp am/fm radio set. I always thought I was a pretty good popcorn chef til I met a longhair, hippie jock named Chuck who I became friends with, and who subsequently proved himself to be a world class popcorn maker
Back when we were young bucks growing up in the Cumberland Highlands region of Kentucky we had a curfew and had to be at home by midnight so so we’d stock up on Pepsi and hit the couch to watch Night Tracks on Ted Turner’s Superstation or Night Flight on the USA network.
With the advent of music videos the entertainment was endless. We’d kick back and watch bands like Devo, Night Ranger, Loverboy and ZZ Top. This was well before I turned into an obsessive record collector with a Coleman Hawkins fixation.
Back then I regularly rocked it to Zebra and Krokus.
My friend Chuck, ever the host, also took responsibility for the food. To wit: the best popcorn any of us had ever eaten.
His recipe is lost to the sands of time and on a recent visit to his manse in Loveland, Ohio I was horrified to see him pull a freezer bag of popcorn out of the fridge and throw it in the microwave.
I wasn’t about to let this bold, naked, act of aggression stand so I called him out.
After we were finished tussling in the backyard and I was sitting on the couch eating the microwaved product corn I began thinking about how to make the perfect bowl of popcorn.
Sure I’ve always made a good one but I wanted to make the best one that’s ever been turned out of a kitchen.
Here is the fruit of a few weeks of kitchen experimentation:
3 T. Coconut Oil [I tried Avocado oil, grapeseed oil, peanut oil and clarified bacon fat during the testing. Coconut oil is the finest]
1/3 C. Popcorn
4 oz Butter, divided into two 2oz chunks [Obviously it’s a good idea to use the good stuff, Parma is quite nice]
Kosher or Sea Salt to taste [Iodized salt tastes weird so try to avoid it]
* Heat oil in heavy bottom stock pot
* When oil shimmers add popcorn
* Liberally salt oil and popcorn
* 20 seconds into the popping quickly remove lid and toss one butter chunk in pan
* After popping has finished, pour popcorn into large bowl
* Toss second butter chunk into saucepan
* Rotate pan around and around til butter is melted
* Pour over popcorn
* Liberally salt
Voila! Hot, salty, buttery popcorn is at the ready. Throw your microwave packets in the trash. Load up some Night Tracks on Youtube and sit on the floor of your living room eating popcorn, guzzling Pepsi and debating who’s hotter Madonna or Roseanna Arquette.
That’s how we did it when we were a couple longhair kids in growing up in Kentucky.